the Life of Zim

13th July
written by dzimney

My wife and I recently switched from T-Mobile to Sprint for a couple of reasons. The first being that T-Mobile is scheduled to be consumed by AT&T and we’d rather get rid of our phones all together than go with AT&T. The second being that we just moved to Lawrence, KS and our T-Mobile service wasn’t quite as good as we’d hoped. So our first reason for the switch was in hopes of better service as Sprint’s headquarters are in Kansas City, not 45 miles away. As it turns out, Sprint service here in Lawrence is questionable. It’s been reasonably decent throughout the area, but that’s about it. The majority of the time we get about two out of four bars. We have service in more places that we had with T-Mobile, but where T-Mobile had service, the service was strong. So, I guess it’s a bit of a crap shoot either way.

With our new service, I’ve had to rework how I’ve connected Google Voice to my phone. As it turns out Sprint handles Google Voice a lot differently than T-Mobile did. Now, keep in mind, I have the option of keeping my Google Voice set up and how it connects to my mobile phone the same as I had it on T-Mobile. Essentially, I just used Google Voice as a second number that forwarded to my mobile phone and used Voice for my voice mail. The voice mail isn’t the greatest because it depends on a data connection to retrieve voicemails, but you gain Google’s transcriptions of your voicemail messages, which I think is amazing. I barely listen to voicemails any more because I just read them. Setting this up isn’t as simple as it was with T-Mobile (just a setting in the phone’s voice settings). You now have to check the proper settings in your online Google Voice settings and then call *28-XXX-XXX-XXXX (where the X’s are populated with your Voice number) from your mobile phone to redirect calls to voicemail.

But back to what you get with Sprint’s Google Voice integration…

Initially, I was a bit confused and annoyed with the integration. Somehow it just seemed like Sprint and Google’s way of disabling Google Voice calls from the phone, which they really have successfully done. However, I never really used that feature anyway, so I didn’t really care. What I did gain though, which was awesome, was the ability to have my Sprint phone number call in to my Google Chat account. Basically, when you integrate your Sprint and Google Voice accounts, you are given an option to use your mobile number as your Google Voice number. Your previous GV number is removed after 90 days if you do this (unless you pay Google $20 to keep the number, which seems reasonable to me). So, now that I have my mobile number set as my Google Voice number, if someone calls my Google Voice number which is my mobile number, it rings both my Google Chat account and my mobile phone. Why is this awesome? Well, because if I’m at my desk and have my Gmail open, I can answer the call with my computer. This is awesome for two reasons. First, because if I answer with my computer rather than my mobile phone, then the call is running through Google Voice rather than Sprint and so the call does not count against my monthly plan. It’s a free call. The second reason is that if I’m in an area that doesn’t have a good signal, such as my in-laws’ basement (where I’m currently working), I can answer a call with my computer that has a good Ethernet connection over my mobile phone that has a weak signal.

There do seem to be some quirky issues with the integration that I have yet to full figure out. For example, with the integration, my text messages are now sent through Google Voice, which is fine with me. However, having the option to have them run through my normal text messaging service on my mobile phone would be nice. Especially since Google Voice doesn’t support MMS (Multimedia Messaging Service). Now it’s entirely possible this option exists, but like setting up voicemail forward (as described above) it doesn’t seem to be an easy thing to figure out.

So do I like my Sprint service better than T-Mobile? Probably not, but seeing how T-Mobile is going away, Sprint seems to fill in alright.
Do I recommend using the Sprint + Google Voice integration? I think the verdict is still out, but I’m leaning towards yes. I’m still playing around with the new set up and I wouldn’t be surprised if I change things around again. I’ve already changed the set up 2 or 3 times in the past week have had Sprint.

And for the record, in my comparison, I’m using the Nexus S 4G on Sprint and was using the Nexus S on T-Mobile.

21st December
written by dzimney

6th December
written by dzimney

10th August
written by dzimney

It seems over the past decade there has been a increasingly disappointing decline in the quality of the news organizations of the United States. Maybe it started with the popularity of reality tv. Or maybe corporate america just hit that breaking point of flooding into every outlet available. Or maybe I was just ignorant to the whole thing and am just now realizing how crooked this world is.

It seems that most major news sources like Fox News, MSNBC and CNN have started spending most of their energy reporting anything that can stir up a group, regardless of credibility or relevance. In fact, I find it hard to even call them “news”. In my opinion C-SPAN is really the only credible cable new source around. And I get it. C-SPAN is boring as hell. And most people don’t watch it because of that.

I’m really struggling here not to go off on a tangent of all the shit that any news source has covered over the last decade or two, from OJ Simpson to Monica Lewinsky to Tiger Woods. Somehow the “tabloids” have made their way into the “main stream” and it’s bullshit. Credible sources and hearsay are interchangeable and titles like ‘opinion’ and ‘news’ are overlooked. No one reads the fine print anymore. If it’s spoken on tv or read from a news paper it’s seen as fact. In short, we as Americans have gotten way too into the habit of serving the lowest common denominator. And the lowest common denominator around here is pretty fucking pathetic.

Enter the New York Times.

I’ve known that the cable and even local news networks have been crap for some time, but for some reason I’ve assumed that print was still fairly credible. And in general I still believe that to be true. Which is why I was so disappointed by this article from the New York Times. If you notice, the word could is used in each of the first seven sentences of the article. One fact the article did get right is that Google and Verizon (one of the nation’s largest ISPs) are talking to each other about what to do about Net Neutrality. However, rather than factually reporting what the two companies have been discussing, the article goes into what the two companies could be discussing or rather what the result of their discussions could be. The first sentence states that the two Internet giants are “nearing an agreement that could allow Verizon to speed some online content to Internet users more quickly if the content’s creators are willing to pay for the privilege.” It does say why the author might think this could happen, it just says that it could. The New York Times and Edward Wyatt don’t really know anything about the specifics of the discussions between Google and Verizon, but they saw fit to publish some possibilities.

Immediately upon reading this article I was questioning it’s credibility. Since it’s inception, Google has been an amazingly strong proponent of an open and free Internet. Something at the essence of Net Neutrality. Probably because of this, the uproar over this accusation has been incredible. People and organizations have been up in arms over Google apparent slide into an evil empire. I’ve received emails from numerous organizations like and Color of Change asking to sign petitions against Google. People like to have something to bitch about and the whole thing got blown way out of proportion.

The New York Times article was very inadvertently accusing Google of going against it’s informal corporate moto of Don’t Be Evil. Immediately after the publication of the article both Verizon and Google refuted the article’s claims. And more recently Google has published a statement describing a joint proposal from Google and Verizon on Net Neutrality. Furthermore they’ve published a Legislative Framework Proposal that will be submitted to Congress on Net Neutrality. The statement and proposal are everything you would hope to expect from a company that “does no evil.”

In short, the accusations made by the New York Times are all completely false.

I’m feeling rather unsatisfied with this rant. Probably because there’s so much to this story and even more to the greater issue. I get that opinion is opinion and often tech articles point to speculation, but especially after witnessing the aftermath of this New York Times article, I believe it was simply irresponsible journalism (if you can call it that). The article should never have been published and the New York Times and Edward Wyatt should make an effort to correct the damage that was done to both Google and Verizon.

22nd May
written by dzimney

It’s here! Well, sort of. You can get Android 2.2, aka Froyo, on your Nexus One if you’re brave enough to install the new OS manually. Thanks to the folks at Android SPIN, there’s a pretty easy way to get the Android 2.2 SDK and get it installed onto a Nexus One. I have no idea of this will work for any other phone running Android.

You can download the Froyo update here:

Once you have the download, if you want to flash the downloaded update file, follow this guide:

22nd May
written by dzimney

This past week marked Google’s 3rd Annual Google I/O Conference in San Francisco, CA. The event which spans the course of two days is a platform for Google to share it’s latest goodies with the world among other things. As an Android convert, I was excited to see the Day 2 Keynote which highlighted all of the new features in Android 2.2 (aka Froyo). If you love android already, make the time to watch this presentation. It’s all very excited stuff. If not, maybe take a look and see what Android has to offer over the leading brand. You may be surprised.

For me, I love how dedicated Google has become to being “open”. Their mission is to make the Internet great and easy to use for everyone, which is more than I can say for some other groups out there. I not only support the amazing technologies that they’re producing, but also support the way they’re doing it. The essence of the Internet is in openness, and Google has been a leader in keeping it that way.

7th April
written by dzimney

Recently I made the switch from iTunes to SongBird. The main reason for the change is that I also recently made the switch from my iPhone to the Nexus One. To make a long story longer, I’ve felt that Apple has been on a slow and steady decline since releasing the iPhone and probably more attributed to teaming up with the likes of AT&T and other carriers internationally. In short Apple has been tightening it’s grip on user experience and customizing, which I hate. Don’t get me wrong I love(d) my iPhone, but it was just time to switch. And although I haven’t blogged about it much yet (which I should) I absolutely love my Nexus One. Love it. However, iTunes and the Nexus One don’t play together. Not that they don’t play well, they’re just completely incompatible; another sign of how Apple’s grip is loosing customers. While the Nexus One is completely open, simply appearing as an external drive that can be written to, iTunes will only write out to iPods and iPhones. Maybe I’d still be using them if they could write songs to any device. Oh well.

So. Now that I’m off of iTunes, I’m in need of a new source of digital music. After seeing an old friend’s facebook post about their new album being released on Amazon, I figured I’d get myself a copy and have since purchased a number of songs and albums off of Amazon’s MP3 store. That is until today. Last night I started up Songbird on the task of organizing my music. With the quantity of music to be copied to a new location the task took quite a bit of time. Meanwhile I decided to download a few songs from Amazon. The way the Amazon MP3 works, is that you download an Amazon MP3 file that must be opened through their Amazon MP3 Downloader. Well yesterday I had Songbird going through all my MP3s and soas not to create havoc in that process I decided to refrain from downloading my Amazon MP3s until the morning. I had downloaded the files to be opened by the Amazon MP3 Downloader, but not the actual MP3 files. Upon open said files this morning I see this coming out of Amazon’s app:

Download no longer available.

What the hell is that!? I go into my Amazon account. I can see the songs that I’ve purchased. When selecting my three songs from this morning, Amazon says “already downloaded”. Hmm. Annoying? Yes. Bullshit? Yes. Explainable? I wish.

Basically what this comes down to is that I’m not using Amazon to download MP3s anymore. Or if I do, I will be skeptical. Digital downloads are a tricky thing. I’m a web developer. I understand this. That said, if a company like Amazon wants to start selling MP3s, it needs to have it’s shit figured out. After a quick google, I found that I am hardly the only person this has happened to. It’s one thing to download a file, accidentally delete it and then not be able to re-download. But to say you can’t download this file because you’ve already downloaded it, when you simply haven’t? That’s bullshit. That’s someone else’s f*** up that I just paid $3 for. If it was more money I’d probably contact Amazon and have a string of posts after this talking about how bullshit (or amazing) Amazon’s customer service is. But it’s $3 so I don’t care that much. Instead I’m just not going to use them any more. Little ‘ol me? Not a big deal. I might spend a few hundred dollars a year on MP3 downloads. However, for a company as big as Amazon, I’m sure there are hell of a lot more people just like me that are having a similar experience. Say 1,000 people? Reasonable? Sure. Multiply by $300/year? That’s $300K a year because some programmer(s) can’t get their shit together? Lame. Especially when Amazon is going up against a giant like Apple’s iTunes Store? No wonder they have such a huge market share.

Me? I’m still trying to stay off of iTunes. Apple’s getting too big for it’s own good. I still love them, but they’re doing things that make me nervous for them. Songbird has the 7digital store, which is okay. Seems like they’ve got a fair amount of stuff on there. Haven’t used it a ton, but it seems to be pretty well integrated with Songbird, which I like.

9th March
written by dzimney

About a week ago I got the Nexus One from Google. Today I decided to delve into the SDK and see if I could get a “Hello, World!” script running on the phone. Following the Android Developers website, I downloaded the SDK and installed the Eclipse plugin for Android. I was able to get the Hello, World! script running fine in the virtual Android machine, but when I started trying to connect my phone for debugging I started running into issues. I’m using the Nexus One which is currently on Android 2.1 and I’m on OS X 10.6 (Snow Leopard). It seemed that whenever I ran the command adb devicesin the terminal, I got an empty list of devices. Frustrating.

Well after scouring the internets with no results, I remembered that when I installed the SDKs with Eclipse, there seemed to be a lack of overlap between the two. When installing the Eclipse Plugin, it creates a folder in the workspace called, except this SDK doesn’t line up with the SDK from the Android Developers site. When I had initially put things together I simply copied over some of the files created by Eclipse to avoid breaking the plugin. But when running adb devices, it was running from the Eclipse provided SDK. Upon trying again with the adb command from the Android Developer’s SDK, the phone shows up on the list of devices. So now I’m copying arranging files to use the good SDK.

Not sure if this will have an effect on the Eclipse plugin. I’m assuming not. My guess is that the Eclipse plugin was simply packaged with an older version of the SDK. We’ll see though. So happy to see the Android SDK is in Java though. Way better than the iPhone SDK.

Looks like you don’t want to overwrite any files. Simply leave the directory as is and point to the downloaded SDK in the Android preferences pane in Eclipse (SDK Location). I had to delete and recreate my helloworld project in Eclipse to repair the errors due to the missing core library (android.jar).

8th September
written by dzimney

I swear, any time I think that Google is lacking any way, they seem to show me up. I absolutely love those guys/gals.

So today after I got home I’m started locanizing my photos on my computer. I’m currently using iPhoto, which I don’t totally love, but it gives me most of what I need. Since Laura and I want Asia, I’ve been keep my photos updates (fairly regularly) on Picasa, Google’s photo app. Now I’d been pretty sure that Google and iPhoto worked pretty seamlessly together, and sure enough they do. Google has developed a desktop app, called Picasa Web Albums Uploader (for Mac), for uploading photos that is complete with an iPhoto plugin. Once the uploader is installed, simply select an album in iPhoto and select File -> Export… Next, select the Picasa Web tab and presto, you can add your photos to a new or existing ablum. Super slick.

Now all I need is an easier way to upload from my phone (iPhone). There are a few workarounds and right now it works fine to sync my phone with with my iPhoto library and upload from there, but it’d be cool if I could do a batch upload straight from the phone. All in due time, I hope. I know I’m not the only one looking for this feature. If there’s a demand and Google’s got time, then I’m sure they’ll deliver. Assuming Apple isn’t letting them to keep people off Picasa and on MobileMe or whatever they’re selling. Don’t get me wrong, I love Apple, but ever since they teamed up with AT&T they’ve gotten a little insane with iPhone.

Damn the man, save the Empire.

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